If you’ve searched for travel on Google recently, you’ll know it’s become even easier than using metasearch sites.
To find flights, users can simply type in their point of departure and final destinations, along with the word “flights” into the main search bar. Google will then present them with all flight options, the airline providers, and a handy drop-down calendar to edit the dates.
Additionally, the Google Hotel Ads search feature has been around for years. Travelers can search for a city plus the word “hotel” (or alternatively, directly in Google Maps) and all the available options will appear.
No matter whether you’re using a mobile or desktop device, it’s a quick and painless process to find the best value travel combinations with Google – and this isn’t going to change anytime soon.
In fact, Google (along with the Onsite Property Management Association or OPMA) had been beta testing a new service that also allows vacation rentals to show in these accommodation search results.
Made possible through advanced technology integrations, OPMA members already saw around $1.2 million in revenue from bookings within a year of the initial launch of the beta program.
Since then Google has expanded and added the mobile version of the Google vacation rental search function to its hotel search results and is soon planning to make this available on desktops as well.
Of course, owners and property managers would now like to know how they can make their own property appear in the Google vacation rental search results as a listing. Want to learn all about how to list your vacation rental on Google? Keep reading.
Why should you distribute your vacation rentals on Google?
Google has successfully integrated vacation rental properties into the Hotel Search functionality, with rental inventories showing up in Google Maps and search results along with hotels.
Property managers (of whom there are approximately 115,000 worldwide) currently can only have direct access to guests via Google Search and Google Maps by partnering with one of their software partners.
Having your vacation rentals on Google is a great way to diversify your revenue. Millions of travelers search for accommodations on Google every day, so this new channel can help you increase your brand visibility, bookings and ultimately, your revenue.
Benefits of listing your vacation rentals on Google
One of the biggest advantages of distributing your vacation rentals on Google is the global reach offered by the search engine; your properties would be visible to millions of potential guests who search on Google every day. You would also be targeting a highly-qualified target audience who are planning, comparing or ready to book accommodations.
Another major bonus is that their platform will help you increase your direct bookings with no transaction fees because they’re (currently) not charging anything to send travelers your way.
Who is Google Vacation Rentals for?
Vacation rental owners and property managers can benefit from connecting their properties to Google if they’re looking to grow their business, diversify revenue streams and expand brand visibility.
How does Google display vacation rentals?
Your OTA listings
Most Google vacation rental listings aren’t displayed on the main results page, but they can be found within the Google Hotel Ads search results. In this view, travelers can actively select and filter the accommodation type as “vacation rentals” instead of hotels.
Doing so brings up a list of private accommodation options, although it is still not quite as extensive as other OTAs which have more offerings.
However, keep in mind that these results only display listings from OTAs which are Google partners. Amongst those partner listing sites are Expedia, Hotels.com, NextPax, RedAwning, Rentals United, TripAdvisor, VRBO. As of now, Airbnb and Booking.com listings are not yet included.
Just as it does with flights and hotels, Google displays search results for vacation rentals as a comparison shop with a map view on the side which shows the general location and the price. Travelers can readjust the stay period and the location, the number of guests and the nightly rate they want to look for.
Note that the exact location of your rental is not directly written on Google – it will only be revealed after a booking is confirmed.
Additionally, travelers can also filter the results according to their personal requirements or preferences. That way, only rentals with a certain guest rating, number of bedrooms and bathrooms or types of amenities will show.
So, for example, guests can specifically search for a rental that is kid-friendly, offers free WiFi and a pool. Be sure to tick those boxes on your listing, so Google knows that your property offers those amenities and includes it in the results.
Your vacation rental website
Your own personal website won’t show up in the vacation rental results of the Google hotel search. However, it can still be displayed on the Google search results page and on Google Maps when travelers search for “vacation rental” in a specific location.
Travelers can click on the Map or “More places” to see the full list, then view on Google Maps and adjust the rating of the rentals they want to see. There is also a direct website link, so if they click on one of the listings, the contact information will show up, as well as the opening hours, images, Google street view and reviews.
You can’t list on Google simply by having a vacation rental website, though. There are certain steps you need to take first to prepare your website and make it appear as a listing on Google.
Bonus: Watch our webinar on how will people find your website on Google. Learn more about Google My Business and other Google free business tools.
How to get your website ready for Google vacation rentals
In order for a vacation rental to appear in Google searches, you will need to create a business profile for it on Google My Business. There are also some other requirements which will help your vacation rental website show up in SERPs.
Here is what to take into account:
1. Have one URL for each rental property
All of your properties may be listed on the same website, but they will each need their own URL.
This makes it easier for Google to identify them as different vacation rentals and will help them to appear as such in search results.
2. Ensure you have clean URLs
A clean URL is a web address that is easy for humans to read, understand and type. Those listed above are good examples of clean URLs.
Dirty URLs, on the other hand, contain question marks and other query parameters. As a general rule, search engines actively ignore these types of URLs or rank these pages lower. Not only is this very bad for your website’s SEO, but it will also spoil any chances of your property showing up in vacation rental search results.
3. Create an optimized and verified Google My Business listing
Although the Google My Business guidelines remain unchanged for the moment (i.e. vacation homes are technically considered to be ineligible businesses), a limited number of listings still surface across specific locations.
However, in order for the search engine to capture a property, it seems owners will have to be on Google My Business in order to appear. You can still decide to create your listing under the “Vacation home rental agency” category and if Google rejects it (or other users report it), this is at your own risk.
Since early 2017, Google began to penalize websites that weren’t secure (in other words, those which lacked HTTPS and SSL encryption). Ensuring your website has these security certificates now will make showing up on Google search results much easier. Having HTTPS on your website also protects guests’ data from hackers or cyber-attacks. This makes the booking process a lot smoother and safer for everybody.
What will Google vacation rentals mean for OTAs?
First and foremost, as Google enter the vacation rental market, it’s highly likely to affect advertising costs for the big listing sites.
Currently, OTAs monopolize the first paid and organic search results for major vacation destinations and keywords.
However, with the Google vacation rentals rollout, it will be interesting to see if they can maintain these positions – or if their ad spend will have to increase tenfold to keep up with the competition of smaller, individual owners.
Additionally, the comparative nature of Google’s travel search results means that guests will automatically be able to find the best price for their stay. This is great news for both guests and vacation rental owners alike.
Owners already know that the guest will find the best price when they book direct on their website, as they will be saving the service fees set by OTAs which can range from 6-18% in some cases. However, Google will spare owners and managers the job of educating guests about the many advantages of booking direct, as it will be clear where the best deal is. Watch this space!
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